A Tactical Year in Review

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brian Horton
  • 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

As I was standing on the stage accepting my role as the first squadron commander for the 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, September 11, 2017, I had no idea what was in store for the next 12 months. My hope was to be a part of an organization that provided significant purpose to the Air Force Reserve and to the people of this country. Now that we are one year into the life of the 803rd AMXS, I can honestly say that hope has become a reality. What we have built so far is the foundation for the enduring legacy of mission successes, delivering unsurpassed tactical airlift capability.


This foundation is highlighted in our newly-approved squadron patch. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. Gray suggests the standard military aircraft color, which is the foundational resource that leads the Air Force in flying, fighting and winning. The wrenches symbolize quality maintenance, which is key to providing safe and reliable resources to combatant commanders. The delta denotes the primary tool for delivering airpower -- the military aircraft. The six-pointed stars, two on each side of the delta, signify the initial driving force of the first weapon system the maintainers of the unit work on – six-bladed turbo-propellers.


Building a maintenance squadron from the ground up is a daunting task and takes unrelenting hard work and focus from many different people. Any commander that tells you he succeeded on his own is either delusional, a liar, or both. The 803rd AMXS is no exception. Building the right supervision team is the cornerstone of making the moving pieces of a unit come together. With the supervision team in place, the commander can then turn his focus to the heartbeat of the squadron, the Airmen. Commanders and supervisors need to understand that the Airmen do not work for them -- they work for the Airmen. It is our job to ensure they are guided and protected. Without viable maintainers on the flight line, giving their all to keep the aircraft operational, the mission is non-existent. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of my supervisory team, we have built the 803rd AMXS into a mission-ready deployable asset with hard working, eager and mission-driven Airmen.


Working in a maintenance group, anyone can tell you that it takes synergy and teamwork to make the wheel turn. We work in an environment consisting of multiple squadrons all consisting of various specialties that must mesh and coordinate on a daily basis to maintain the life of the unit and the mission. The 803rd AMXS would not have stood up so quickly and efficiently without the help of the 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 403rd Maintenance Squadron, and the 403rd Maintenance Group. The efforts of everyone in the MXG were instrumental in getting the new tactical maintenance squadron up to initial operational capability. As the commander, I am forever grateful to everyone that had a hand in making this venture a success.


Quantifying success in a maintenance unit is, well, part of the culture created by the maintenance managers of our past. There’s literally nothing we do that doesn’t have a metric associated with it to measure our process. But instead of putting my readers to sleep with metrics, I thought I’d share some of the mission and training successes the 803rd AMXS has achieved during the short 12 months of its existence. Being a tactical maintenance squadron, our primary mission is to serve the combatant commanders and meet the combat taskings of higher headquarters. So, our focus is training with the 815th Airlift Squadron to prepare us for these taskings. The 803rd AMXS and the 815th AS have partnered in multiple training events that have been centered on deployment preparation. A few examples of training events include Exercise Green Flag, a 78 person, 4-ship airlift exercise; Operation Neptune, a D-Day invasion commemoration at Omaha Beach in France; Exercise Patriot Warrior in Wisconsin, a joint effort with the 908th Maintenance Group; and the Pacific Air Rally in Sri Lanka, which is a command post and flying training exercise focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. In only one year, the squadron has worked grueling hours to prepare for these missions followed by the flawless execution of the strategic plan.


All of these great exercises and operations were geared toward getting the Airmen prepared to go to the AOR where we will be called upon to deliver real world intra-theater airlift. I could not have asked more of my Airmen over the past 12 months. As their commander, I am honored to serve alongside them and proud of the work they continue to put in every day. I look forward to getting down range with members of my squadron and other members of the maintenance group. We will show that this unit was put here for a reason and silence anyone who thinks a young squadron can’t fulfill the combat mission as good as, if not better than, a seasoned tactical maintenance squadron. We have a long way to go to perfection and I hope to build the 803rd AMXS into an enduring asset that will sustain combat readiness for many years to come.